Waltham Band's autumn concert, titled 'War and Peace' and loosely tied to the centenary of the 1918 Armistice, was staged at Waingels College, Woodley, on 27th October with a supporting programme by singers of the Wokingham Choral Academy. This was the band's second concert under the baton of Steve Block, and was performed before a fair-sized audience who were happy to sing along to a number of the pieces based on popular songs, using the supplied song-sheet.
The band’s programme opened with the British Legion March, followed by Gavin Somerset’s moving evocation of John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields and Rob Wiffin’s medley of Songs of the Great War (with audience participation). A set from the choir then included The Ash Grove and Thistle and Rose. The band’s second set opened with an abridged version of Mars and Venus from Holst’s Planets suite, followed by Alan Fernie’s arrangement of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. The first half closed with a rendering of the theme from Dad’s Army that was specially arranged for the occasion, with the audience singing ‘Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr Hitler?’
The second half opened with the theme from The Great Escape, followed by Keith Wilkinson’s arrangement of Bring Him Home as a soprano cornet solo, ably performed by Gerry Townsend. The audience joined in again with White Cliffs of Dover and We’ll Meet Again, as the band played the latter half of Darrol Barry’s Keep Smiling Through, and the set closed with Philip Harper’s haunting Path to Peace. The choir’s second set opened with With a Little Help From My Friends, and included a clever setting of Chattanooga Choo-Choo.
The band’s final set began with John Williams’s powerful Hymn to the Fallen, followed by Darrol Barry’s medley of The Greatest War Themes. The band’s programme then came fully home to its theme with Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations, and the concert closed with both band and choir performing Alan Fernie’s arrangement of The Conquest of Paradise, by Vangelis.
Waingels College proved to be an excellent venue, and both performers and audience clearly had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. We look forward to future co-operation with both the college and the choir.